Everything You Need To Know Before Travelling To Turkey
Travelling to Turkey is an experience that will shock your senses. Everything in the country is louder and more in-your-face than you imagine before you go. Ignore the glossy brochures of pristine beaches and blue skies. They create a false impression. That’s not what Turkey is about at all. This country is fundamentally different from any other in the world and offers a unique tourist experience.
Turkey changes your perception of the world. You realize that different cultures go about their lives in fundamentally different ways. We’re not all the same. When you go to Ankara, İzmir or İstanbul, you see that life is very different indeed. The values aren’t the same. People operate differently. It’s hard to describe, but it’s there, deep down in the culture.
Travelling to Turkey is something that millions of people do every year, but there are some things that you should know before you jet off.
Turkey is both a cultural and economic melting pot. The official currency is the Turkish lira, but you don’t have to use it everywhere you go if you don’t want to. Many merchants and street vendors will quite happily accept other valuable currencies, like the Euro and the dollar.
You can withdraw money using some credit cards from local ATMs, but it doesn’t always work. Some cards won’t work with some branches, so don’t rely solely on credit or debit. You may find yourself a long way from the nearest source of cash.
Similarly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to carry around large denominations with you, like one-hundred-dollar bills. Ideally, you want to be able to give merchants the exact amount. Getting short-changed is common in Turkey, especially if you go to a kebab stand.
Carry Around A Range Of Currencies In Small Denominations
There Are A Lot Of Traditional Turkish Toilets
Turkish toilets are a little different from the sit-down versions we prefer in the west. You’ll have to squat, even if you go to upmarket restaurants and hotels.
In many ways, taking this position is anatomically superior. Still, it can take a little getting used to when you first try it out. You need strong leg muscles and quite a bit of patience.
Also, don’t forget to take stuff out of your pockets beforehand. You don’t want to fish around for your phone or purse. That’s not a nice thing to think about.
Unfortunately, not all parts of Turkey will accept western women who do not cover their heads. Metropolitan areas tend to be more liberal than rural - as in most places - but it is still wise to wear a shawl. Christianity is an influence here, but Islam is dominant.
You’ll also need to dress modestly elsewhere unless you want to draw the ire of locals and the law. Stripping off and going to the beach is generally out of the question, except in some particular resorts around the Aegean. Try, if possible, to wear the local garb if you’re a woman. Doing this will reduce unwanted attention and help you blend in better.
Keep Your Head Covered
You’ll Need To Plan Your Transport Ahead
Most people fly into one of Turkey’s many regional airports. Unfortunately, these tend to be quite a long way from the main tourist destinations. Sites like fattaxi.com, however, allow you to arrange transport in advance for cities like Istanbul. All you do is book your flight and then tell the taxi firm when you’ll arrive. They then sort of the rest of your travel arrangements and support you throughout the rest of your trip.
Turkish people tend to be exceptionally friendly to tourists. Much of the economy depends on the tourist trade. Without it, the country would struggle economically.
It pays dividends, therefore, to get to know the locals as best you can. Usually, a little friendliness will go a long way, and people will open up to you.
Put In Some Effort With The Locals
You Must Have A Visa Before You Can Enter The Country
Like many countries, Turkey requires all visitors to complete a visa before they arrive. You can apply for a visa online through the country’s electronic system.
To qualify for a visa, you need to have at least six months remaining on your passport. Check, therefore, whether you need to renew it on http://www.mfa.gov.tr/.
It also takes a few weeks to obtain a visa, so don’t book your trip and leave the visa to the last minute. Make sure you get on with it as a matter of urgency.
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